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Nisga'a Memorial Lava Bed Park
Anhluut'ukwsim Laxmihl Angwinga'asanskwhl Nisga'a
Canada's last volcanic eruption occurred on Nisga'a land approximately 250 years ago. The lava destroyed everything in its path, sparked fires in the surrounding forests, and covered two Nisga'a villages. More than 2,000 people perished. Today, the vast lava beds still dominate the Nass Valley. They serve as a memorial to those who lost their lives and as a reminder of the importance of respect-for both the natural world and the wisdom of the elders.
The 179 square kilometre Nisga'a Memorial Lava Bed Park is a Class "A" provincial park. The park is jointly managed by the Nisga'a Nation and British Columbia. The park is a popular destination with a 16 site campground and a Visitors Centre displaying Nisga'a artifacts (open May 15 thru Labour Day).
Join us for guided tours of the lava beds, sport fishing, backcountry excursions, a stroll across the Nass River on a 400-foot long extension bridge, or simply stop and admire our majestic pts'aan (totem poles) that tell of Nisga'a history, culture, and clan relationships. Drop in tours to the Lava Cone leave from the Visitors Centre from July 1 thru Labour Day.
Wil Ksi Baxhl Mihl: Where the Fire Comes Out
Long ago, two children were playing down by the river. One child caught a salmon and slit open its back. The child stuck sticks into the salmon's back, set them on fire, and returned the fish to the river. The children were amused to see the salmon swim erratically, smoke rising from its back. The other child caught a salmon and slit open its back, inserted a piece of shale, and put it back into the river. The salmon floated on its side, weighed down by the shale. The children laughed at the struggling fish.
An elder happened upon the scene and warned the children, "Take care what you do. The salmon will curse you and the Creator will respond in kind."
The ground began to tremble and shake. Nature's harmony had been upset. A scout was sent to investigate. From the top of Gennu'axwt, he saw smoke and flames and ran to warn the people of their fiery destiny. In panic, some villagers fled up the mountain. Others canoed to the far side of the river but were killed by the lava.
As the people watched the lava flow over their villages, Gwaxts'agat (a powerful supernatural being) suddenly emerged to block the lava's advance. For days, Gwaxts'agat fought back the lava by blowing on it with its great nose. Finally, the lava cooled and Gwaxts'agat retreated into the mountain where it remains to this day.
-from Nisga'a oral tradition